Shattering The Stigma

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posted on Aug, 5 2013 @ 05:24 AM
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Hello again ATS!

Please let me preface this by stating that as I write this OP my Moderator hat is off. As my mini-profile clearly states, my name is John... So please accept that John is typing right now and the mantle of “Hefficide” is placed off to the side for a few minutes. I ask that you, Dear Reader, please grant me this indulgence. As you will soon see, I am discussing an issue here that is very personal.

Thank you!

As many of you are aware, I have a psychiatric diagnosis. In fact I have an entire collection of them. This is something that I am open about at all times and feel no shame about whatsoever. I have lived with my illnesses for roughly three decades and have made peace with my proverbial demons. Several of my authored threads and countless of my previous posts speak to these issues, my history, and my feelings about the entire spectrum of mental health issues, theories, and stigmas.

Today I feel compelled to address that last part... The stigma.

I took a hiatus away from ATS not too long ago as a means of resetting. After spending the better part of a year being logged on for hours and hours almost every single day, I needed a break. I needed to clear my mental cache, as it were, so that I could regain perspective on the subjects that we discuss here. I had, in effect, been on the front lines for too long and was starting to get a bit jumpy. I was beginning to burn out.

The sabbatical worked and I returned a couple of months ago recharged, refocused, and with my perspective much more centered. I returned with what I hope is a much more sympathetic and less cynical mind set. It certainly feels to me like that is the case.

Having said that one issue here keeps seeking me out... finding me when I am not even looking for it.

The stigma. I find that I am seeing it more and more here and this troubles me.

Accusations of mental health issues seem to be becoming all the rage in the ad hominem culture. I am losing track of the times that I have opened a thread only to discover that within the first few replies I see something like “You need to see a shrink”, or “Your posts are indicative of schizophrenia”, or “Man, are you bipolar or something?”

You will understand it if these statements stick out to me... You see I am bipolar. I do see a shrink. And while I am not dissociative or schizophrenic, I have known people who are. Good hearted people. In fact, since one in five Americans had a mental health issue just in the year 2011... I can only assume that just about every person who reads this has been within one step of similar issues... Whether it be a relative, friend, neighbor, coworker... Nearly all of us have seen mental illness first hand. Even if you have managed to live a life totally free of exposure to mental health issues, surely the media has initiated you into the subject to one degree or another.

Given the universality of this issue... Why do some of us still feel it is OK to make light of it and even use it as a direct or backhanded insult to others?

At this point I would like to post some facts about mental illness:


Mental illnesses are medical conditions that disrupt a person's thinking, feeling, mood, ability to relate to others and daily functioning. Just as diabetes is a disorder of the pancreas, mental illnesses are medical conditions that often result in a diminished capacity for coping with the ordinary demands of life.

Serious mental illnesses include major depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), panic disorder, post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and borderline personality disorder. The good news about mental illness is that recovery is possible.
Mental illnesses can affect persons of any age, race, religion, or income. Mental illnesses are not the result of personal weakness, lack of character or poor upbringing. Mental illnesses are treatable. Most people diagnosed with a serious mental illness can experience relief from their symptoms by actively participating in an individual treatment plan.

Source

Bolding mine

Let me step out of the structure of this post for just one moment...

I have FIVE of the seven listed “Serious mental illnesses” ( All listed except borderline personality disorder and schizophrenia). I ask, do I seem irrational or unintelligent? While I am somewhat afraid that some of my political forum opponents may feel a desire to jump in here to claim that my liberal views are irrational - in their opinions (
) - such ideas fall less into the category of “delusion” and more into the realm of “personal opinion and taste.”

Opinion and taste that is colored by decades of seeing sick people struggle in a system that does not quite know what to do with them.

One might read this post and just shrug me off as a thin-skinned person harping on their pet-boohoo subject. Those who are familiar with me know that this is not the case. I actually have a backwards sense of pride about my issues – as the adversity I have faced over my life suggests that my diagnoses should probably be way more involved than they actually are. Given my past, I am incredibly sane at this point and, like most guys, I kind of dig my battle scars. I am always happy to own these things and discuss them – even with people who enter the conversation assuming that they've found easy prey to pick on... easy scabs to break. It's just not that way at all.

Having said that... I am not the only person on ATS with a diagnosis and not everyone here is as accommodating and unscathed by these verbal barbs – even when those barbs are directed at others. Try to relate it to something painful in your own world – anything... Maybe you have gray hair and dye it, or one of your feet is a bit bigger than the other, or you have freckles, or you bite your nails, or you have a facial scar that stands out... Anything that you are self-conscious of... Now imagine if you saw THAT issue tabled time and time again and used as a tool of mockery and judgment.

Every single time such an ad hominem attack is made, assume that a person who really is mentally ill will read it and will feel a tinge of judgment and alienation because of it. They will be hurt and they will be a little angry because they live, day to day, not just with the pain of their illnesses... but also with the stigma of a world that does not understand mental illness and makes snap judgments about the subject that are absolutely based in ignorance and a lack of understanding.

For example... such ad hominem attacks are most often framed to cast dispersions upon a posters intelligence, even though there is strong evidence available to show that straight “A” students may be four times likely to be bipolar and that creativity and mental illness go hand in hand.

edit on 8/5/13 by Hefficide because: BB tag




posted on Aug, 5 2013 @ 05:24 AM
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History is replete with examples of extremely intelligent people who suffered from mental illness. here is a list some of the highlights of which include Michelangelo, Ernest Hemingway, Sylvia Plath, Isaac Newton, Leo Tolstoy, and Abraham Lincoln.

An additional list from Rutgers

These do not strike me as stupid people at all.

In fact some new(ish) studies suggest that some mental illnesses may be the result of the same mutation that is responsible for our intelligence itself.

Another difficult and common ad hominem encountered is those who seek to justify or moralize their attacks upon mental health by insisting that mental illness is a matter of choice.... that it's all in a persons mind and is totally within their capacity to control, at will.

Rather than waste a lot of time trying to source a ton of information about this, I will simply opt to state that mental illness has a variety of causes, including brain chemistry, brain injury, genetics, trauma, environmental factors, toxins, and others.

I know... I know... There are people who will say things like “My dog died once, and I was really sad. But I decided not to be depressed anymore and I got over it – therefore depression is a lie and anyone with the desire can get over it too!”

To them I simply say “Please educate yourselves on this issue because there is a world of difference between an emotional episode and being mentally ill. I can lay on the group and flap around... but that doesn't mean I am having seizure. Just because things are alike does not imply they are the same.”

Closing Thoughts



It is not difficult, at all, to see that such attacks upon the intelligence of the mentally ill are not only rude and distasteful – these attacks are also totally factually inaccurate and overly generalized. People fear what they do not understand... and sadly most people do not understand mental illness at all. We still retain a very Victorian approach to a large degree... wanting to demonize and remove the issue rather than learning about it. It is easier to attack that which is different or misunderstood. It is much, much more difficult to seek to empathize and understand.

I realize I am not going to change the world by writing a few words and posting them to a website like ATS, just as I will not resolve the issue here, in our own little pond. But I do have the strength to hope that I might get a few people to use the Google for some good, or start a productive conversation... Hell I might even change a mind or two and actually make a minor difference.

Please feel free to open up and say whatever is on your mind ( Within the T&C of course ). If you have suffered with mental health issues and wish to share, you are welcome. If you have never suffered but knew someone who has? You are welcome as well. In fact even if you are one of the people who will never accept that mental health issues exist and swear that it's all a load of nonsense – I welcome you too...

Because every single word we speak helps to break down the wall of stigma and opens up the world for those of us who suffer, mostly in silence and shame. It is time to shine some much needed light on this very prominent issue.

Thanks ATS.



posted on Aug, 5 2013 @ 05:46 AM
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As R.D.Laing might have said, "If you haven't got some kind of mental issue, there must be something wrong with you." Unless you live in a social vacuum, it's impossible not to be affected by the information and experiences you encounter, even if it's only at a sub-conscious level. Whether it be chasing the dragon, or chasing women/men, we all have our addictions and mental failings, and anyone who uses mental illness terms in a disparaging way, is likely overlooking issues of their own.
edit on 5-8-2013 by IvanAstikov because: (no reason given)



posted on Aug, 5 2013 @ 07:59 AM
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reply to post by Hefficide
 


I have a brother 12 years my senior. About the time I was born, he was involved in a horrific car accident. He was trapped in the car for a while under a very heavy set man. After being freed by the rescue services (he was 12), he ran into a nearby field and screamed at the top of his voice. Apparently the ambulance crew couldn't get him in the ambulance as he had turned almost wild, running around screaming. Before this he was a normal 12 year old kid, with lots of friends. He didn't have many physical injuries.
Since then he has suffered from Bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. As I was growing up, I used to wonder why my eldest brother would verbally attack me and sometimes physically too. For no apparent reason. I didn't understand the issues he was facing. Each time I was alone with him I would be verbally attacked. This happened since I was a very young kid, 5 -6 years old. This was the 1970's. After school I even had to stay at my friends house until my parents returned from work as the abuse was too much for a young kid. In those days there was no support. The doctors wouldn't treat him as there was 'no physical' problem.

As I got older I could 'fight back' and believe me, I did. He still suffers to this day and this has really affected his life and the lives of those of us around him. The stress my parents went through was unimaginable.

I sympathise with anyone who has had to go through similar experiences.

It does hurt when people use bipolar, schizophrenia or mental illness as a derogatory term. Even when not aimed at myself or my brother.

Dear OP, thank you for writing this thread and I hope some people will think twice before doing this on ATS as it makes me both sad and angry, two emotions I like to avoid. Im sure others are affected the same way too.

Thanks.



posted on Aug, 5 2013 @ 08:55 AM
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reply to post by Hefficide
 


What is normal?

What is "average"?

It's funny that as a society, we define ourselves by artificial standards. The person on tv, or the guy in the movies, is what we all strive to achieve. And it is a false image, a pretense.

By these false standards we set ourselves up for failure.

We can't sing as well or speak as well or we're too thin or too fat, we set ourselves up to fail everytime we address these false standards as real applications.

The next time that it is pointed out by whomever that you or someone isn't "normal" try to look at what standard they are applying the term by.

Because living a lie and pretending to be as "normal" as the false ideal is worse than those of us who may be different, but honest and real.



posted on Aug, 5 2013 @ 07:55 PM
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An important topic, thought I'd give it a bump.




posted on Aug, 6 2013 @ 10:20 AM
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reply to post by Hefficide
 
Your post is very interesting especially coming from someone who has an illnesses, what better place for real info then from someone experiencing the problem and dealing with it.

What was in my mind the whole time I read your post was, how does someone with these illnesses deal with moderating endless posts from people that one would think have every illnesses you mentioned? Point being most of these people perpetrate the hate and ridicule that you and other mods have to deal with constantly.

I know there are days I can't even get on the computer or web sites like ATS for fear of someone's hatful rant ruining my whole day. Human nature seems to be becoming more fragmented every day...............maybe I have just been(as Pink Floyd would say) looking out from behind these eyes to long and seen and heard to much to deal with it, bringing me back to my question, how do you do it???



posted on Aug, 6 2013 @ 10:21 AM
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Thank you for this intelligent, eloquent take on mental health issues.



posted on Aug, 6 2013 @ 07:25 PM
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I have to admit when listing health problems when applying for jobs I always leave out the clinical depression/GAD

By the way I think so many peoole who do encourage the whole stigma have issues with mental health themselfs and compensating. My best mates ex GF 100% sufferd depression and a eating disorder and would be scathing in her comments to me and her Bf who also has depression. I think its fear.



posted on Aug, 6 2013 @ 07:40 PM
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s&f for helping people to ditch the stigma!


It is something I fight every day in my day to day world.
I have always been open and honest about my PTSD diagnosis, and I am living proof that a person can function just fine with such anxiety disorders, although some days are better than others, but it is still something that carries a stigma with a lot of people.

But then....




posted on Aug, 6 2013 @ 07:42 PM
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Truth is that the definition of "Mental Illness' is so broad these days that anything can be considered as being a disorder.

I drink a glass of scotch a night with my dogs on the porch. Every day, for years. Some people would claim I suffer from some form of anxiety or depression because I refuse to go a day without doing it.

It's not cause I'm crazy, but because it's my routine and I enjoy doing it.

Thanks for the thread Heff!

~Tenth



posted on Aug, 6 2013 @ 11:05 PM
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Allow me to say, with all the sincere respect in the world: You are one crazy MoFo, John. In all the right ways. Breath-takingly honest, hyper-intelligent, kind-hearted, always helpful, and I've learned so MUCH from you about being open and real.

I have few heroes. You are one. Respect, Sir, much respect.



posted on Aug, 7 2013 @ 08:47 AM
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Very interesting thread, and you're absolutely right.. too many people here on ATS automatically make those inappropriate comments about "getting help" and it is entirely ignorant in my opinion. They are unaware of the complexities of the mental health field, and instead they legitimize this incredibly abusive industry- the "mental health" medical industry.

It is my understanding that most of these labels, or "disorders," are actually inventions created intentionally by alphabet soup agencies (CIA anyone?). The objective is to control and contain populations, and to profit from these victims by way of pharmaceutical manufacturing.

The mental health industry is very corrupt- just take a look at the industry in relation to MK Ultra, psychiatric experimentation, etc.

In many cases where people have these "disorders" it's actually merely a symptom of gov. abuses of sophisticated and highly advanced mind control technologies, which frequently explain away the health problems.
I'm not sure if you're interested in themes and topics concerning "electronic harassment," psychotronic weapons, or paranormal sonic weapons, but those topics are very important as they explain a great deal about the MH industry. The GOV. is currently doing a lot of damage to humankind via those weapons, in order to disempower millions of people. You can look into the works of John T. Hall, Robert Duncan as they discuss the topic of those weapons quite a bit- George Noory has interviewed both of these gentlemen, and I found the radio broadcasts very informative and important to say the least.

The industry just peddles off the drugs to these "labeled," "diagnosed," patients and makes massive amounts of money off of them while injuring them with these drugs.



posted on Aug, 7 2013 @ 08:54 AM
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Originally posted by tothetenthpower
Truth is that the definition of "Mental Illness' is so broad these days that anything can be considered as being a disorder.

I drink a glass of scotch a night with my dogs on the porch. Every day, for years. Some people would claim I suffer from some form of anxiety or depression because I refuse to go a day without doing it.

It's not cause I'm crazy, but because it's my routine and I enjoy doing it.

Thanks for the thread Heff!

~Tenth


Great point, nowadays if you drink to much coffee, it is considered a disorder. DMS-V latest eligible mental disorders.. will find and provide the corresponding link later.



posted on Aug, 9 2013 @ 11:12 PM
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Originally posted by tony9802

Originally posted by tothetenthpower
Truth is that the definition of "Mental Illness' is so broad these days that anything can be considered as being a disorder.

I drink a glass of scotch a night with my dogs on the porch. Every day, for years. Some people would claim I suffer from some form of anxiety or depression because I refuse to go a day without doing it.

It's not cause I'm crazy, but because it's my routine and I enjoy doing it.

Thanks for the thread Heff!

~Tenth


This is very the case for me actually, even the the point I skip eating and go to pee too often to realize 8 hours later I did drink coffee all day long

Great point, nowadays if you drink to much coffee, it is considered a disorder. DMS-V latest eligible mental disorders.. will find and provide the corresponding link later.


This is very the case for me actually, even the the point I skip eating and go to pee too often to realize 8 hours later I did drink coffee all day long
. I hope I will not need to take a new pill for acting in such a rebellious manner.


Thruthseek3r



posted on Aug, 11 2013 @ 09:54 AM
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reply to post by tony9802
 



Very interesting thread, and you're absolutely right.. too many people here on ATS automatically make those inappropriate comments about "getting help" and it is entirely ignorant in my opinion. They are unaware of the complexities of the mental health field, and instead they legitimize this incredibly abusive industry- the "mental health" medical industry.

It is my understanding that most of these labels, or "disorders," are actually inventions created intentionally by alphabet soup agencies (CIA anyone?). The objective is to control and contain populations, and to profit from these victims by way of pharmaceutical manufacturing.

And here we have the PERFECT counter-point to Heff's FABULOUS thread here.

First of all, S/F to John for this important - nay, VERY important -- thread. If you were not here, Heff, this place would be MUCH less stimulating or worthwhile. I consider you perhaps THE top poster in the forums I frequent. (for whatever that's worth).


That said:

THE OTHER SIDE OF THE STIGMA needs to be addressed, and this post by tony illustrates it beautifully.

I am a Mental Health Professional - trained in clinical psychotherapy from the "self-determination" school, now retired. I burned out. I still know my stuff, and keep up with recent trends and studies and changes - but I no longer practice professionally. What I try to do here, I do voluntarily, and out of an innate wish to HELP, as well as to UNDERSTAND what makes people tick.

MANY members are so quick to vilify the Mental Health profession - probably JUST AS MANY as are quick to laugh at or denigrate those with diagnoses. I have daignoses of my own - but I am bright, capable, and SINCERE. I want to HELP. That is all. I was ever the one to open my mouth in class or while working, in meetings; outspoken, inquisitive, challenging, and nearly ALWAYS at the top of my classes. I have consistently received POSITIVE feedback from my mentors, my teachers, and my clients (who are countless at this point).

I have spoken and worked with (teamed up with) people with EVERY conceivable mental illness, and I am here to testify that MOST mental health professionals are Caring, and ALSO very sensitive. I get just as frustrated with lol-ers telling people to "get help" or try to "diagnose" - when NONE of them are qualified to do so. I, from time to time, HAVE suggested that people seek a qualified counselor, and have posted many times the different sorts of counselors there are, and how a person can choose a "good fit" in a counselor. I am available for anyone here who would like more info about how to choose the best practitioner "fit" for their needs and goals......treatment is a PARTNERSHIP.

The reasons I went into the Mental Health field are several - but from my earliest days I was interested in the mind, and particularly "insanity" as a subject. From elementary school days, my favorite books to look at were about the mind and it's peculiarities.

Yes, there are corrupt practitioners in EVERY FIELD - and I get SO SICK of being ridiculed, attacked, or demeaned by people who think they know something which they don't. I'm pleased to say that several members have consulted me and found guidance and help - which is all that counselors do. We don't prescribe - we study for YEARS to learn the various theories, therapies, schools of thought, and best-practice standards WHICH CHANGE frequently as more is learned, more is documented, more is studied and deconstructed.

@Heff, you are a jewel. I'm very glad to "know you" from what you post here, and this world is a much better place for people like you.

S/F, my cyber-friend.


edit on 11-8-2013 by wildtimes because: (no reason given)



posted on Aug, 11 2013 @ 10:24 AM
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Why do some of us still feel it is OK to make light of it and even use it as a direct or backhanded insult to others?
reply to post by Hefficide
 


This may be totally off the mark, but I feel I have to address it. I believe many people comment on such things because it is human nature to want to categorize everything. Seeing as I am aware of this, I try not to put these thoughts into words, but I can't stop my mind from thinking such things:

She's beautiful.
He's successful.
She's ugly.
She has nice boobs.
He's insane.
He's a druggie.

We do this all the time.

For me, even though I don't say these things out loud (as some are compelled to spill the entire contents of their brains on such matters) I don't mean anything by them. It's almost as if these observations come from an involuntary part of the brain.



posted on Aug, 11 2013 @ 12:14 PM
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Here's an interesting article I came across while researching the thread in the Skunkworks forum about the Aitrui lady:

www.news.harvard.edu...

Ignoring what seems irrelevant to your immediate needs may be good for your mental health but bad for creativity.
Focusing on every sight, sound, and thought that enters your mind can drive a person crazy. It interferes with an animal's hunt for something to eat, or a busy person's efforts to sleep. As you might guess, psychologists have a term for ignoring the irrelevant; they call it "latent inhibition." A team of them at Harvard has discovered that students who score low in this seemingly vital trait are much more likely to be creative achievers than those who excel in putting things out of their minds.

"Scientists have wondered for a long time why madness and creativity seem linked, particularly in artists, musicians, and writers," notes Shelley Carson, a Harvard psychologist. "Our research results indicate that low levels of latent inhibition and exceptional flexibility in thought predispose people to mental illness under some conditions and to creative accomplishments under others."
edit on 11-8-2013 by wildtimes because: (no reason given)



posted on Aug, 12 2013 @ 01:44 PM
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reply to post by Hefficide
 


Great thread and points Heff. I was diagnosed about 8 months ago with depressive disorder. Been on Lexapro since and it has done wonders. Many people just don't seem to understand. I wasn't just sad, or feeling down looking for a drug to make me feel good. I didn't get help until it was almost too late, because I too was affected by the whole "depression isn't real" mindset much of society is stuck in.



posted on Aug, 13 2013 @ 11:43 AM
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reply to post by Hefficide
 



Because every single word we speak helps to break down the wall of stigma and opens up the world for those of us who suffer, mostly in silence and shame. It is time to shine some much needed light on this very prominent issue.


It's because people are brave enough to talk about their lives that views are changing - for the better

There's really too much to say on this subject in one thread - and every person is different, an individual with a different story and set of experiences

Sometimes psychiatry and psychology, out of necessity - work very hard to come up with categories, diagnosis and treatments they can apply to anyone and everyone. This makes it difficult for people who have no experience with mental health issues to understand what they're looking at - it all looks like nonsense and excuses to them - and a chance for people to exploit or make money

The times change, our levels of knowledge and experience change - and eventually so do our opinions

My dad was bipolar - his life was complicated. He was a brilliant, deep, passionate, talented, funny, wonderful man - I miss him. He died of cancer not long after a doctor realized he was bipolar - I often wonder how things might have gone had he lived long enough to be treated for his condition

There's a book - Touched with Fire written by a psychologist, Kay Redfield Jamison, who is also bipolar. It's been out for quite a while now - it was unique when it first came out - I'm sure there's plenty of other material that's more up to date out there now. But this book helped me understand so much - it's also a fascinating read

Good thread - wish it would get more attention. Another bump, and a S&F

edit on 8/13/2013 by Spiramirabilis because: (no reason given)





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